70th Anniversary of The Story of Robin Hood

I have many favourite stills from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) and this is one of them. Richard Todd as Robin Hood puts his protective arms around Maid Marian played by the beautiful Joan Rice. Do you have a favourite?

This movie had a huge influence on me. I was already a huge Disney fan, but I can remember sitting in my local Granada cinema when I was a teenager, being transfixed by the visual feast before my eyes. The glorious Technicolor, the wonderful characters, the visual effects and of course I fell in love with Joan Rice.

As we approach the 70th Anniversary of the start of filming at Denham Studios, I can't help wishing Disney would release an anniversary DVD of The Story of Robin Hood, containing extras and behind-the-scenes footage. Wouldn't that be a fitting tribute to this wonderful film and the vast amount of talented people that were involved in creating this masterpiece?

Advertising the Story of Robin Hood


One of the many things I have learned, since writing this blog about the Story of Robin Hood, is the huge amount of advertising and promotion that Disney used for his films. We have seen in previous articles the images of the shop displays in many of the major stores in London, completely decked-out with 'Robin Hood' toys and memorabilia in 1952. Click the link ‘Film Premiere’ to see more.

In my last blog post I showed, with the help of Janet VanMeter, how Walt Disney and Robin Hood Flour combined to promote his newly released live-action movie. Available with a purchase of Robin Hood Flour, were posters, cookie cutters and free comic books - all linked to the movie.

Above is another example of Disney's advertising campaign. This full page (above) was kindly sent in by Neil and shows Robin Hood Flour alongside an extraordinary collection of companies, all promoting the Story of Robin Hood.

Robin Hood Flour


Janet VanMeter a Robin Hood fan and regular reader of this blog has recently shared pictures of her complete cookie cutter collection and poster that promoted Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and Robin Hood Flour.

Janet's cookie cutter collection

Also included in the promotion of the film were three giveaway small comic books, 7.25 inches tall x 5 inches wide and printed by Western Publishing. The first free comic was ‘The Miller’s Ransom,’ followed by the ‘Ghosts of Waylea Castle', the third is sadly unknown. The comics were written by Don Christensen and illustrated by Tony Sgroi and Russ Manning.

Robin Hood Flour was founded in 1900 by Donald Mclean in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in western Canada. In 1909 the mill was taken over by Francis Atherton Bean of Minneapolis and within two years it was producing over 1,600 barrels of flour a day.

Using the green and red archer emblem as a sign of good value and respectability, Robin Hood Flour and its recipes have remained popular for over a century. In the late 50’s and early 1960’s the company even used a jingle made from the theme tune of the classic TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood which starred Richard Greene.

Thank you Janet for sharing your collection.

The RKO Joint Receptions


A while ago Geoff Wait sent some fantastic images of Elton Hayes attending a premiere of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in Cardiff. We now know that several other members of the cast also made personal appearances at selected cinemas. But, the article I have featured in this blog post is a mystery which I hope my readers can solve.

The images I am showing unfortunately do not have a date and come from an unknown source. They feature RKO-Radio’s joint receptions in provinces for Saturday Island and the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. 

The premiere of the Story of Robin Hood was held at the Leicester Square Theatre on Thursday 13th March 1952. In the audience were many distinguished guests and celebrities, including the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Nottingham who presented a gift to Joan Rice (Maid Marian in the movie).

Other guests included Claudette Colbert, Donald Peers, Petula Clark, Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle.

The Mayor of Westminster also attended, along with the ‘real’ Sheriff of Nottingham who met up with Peter Finch (the Sheriff in the movie) at the reception. The theatre attracted hundreds of sightseers and was covered by the ‘television newsreel cameras’ of the time.

It would be very interesting to know when exactly these RKO Joint Receptions were held.

From the advertisements of the time, we have seen that several films accompanied the showing of Disney’s Story of Robin Hood:

Hammer, The Toff  (1952) starring John Bentley and Patricia Dainton was shown with Disney’s Robin Hood at the Gaumont Theatre in Manchester.

Seal Island (1948) an American documentary film directed by James Algar. Produced by Walt Disney, this was the first instalment of the True-Life Adventures.

Saturday Island (1952) (also known as Island of Desire) was an adventure romance war film directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Linda Darnell, Tab Hunter and Donald Gray. Shown during the RKO Joint Receptions.

Do you know when these RKO Joint Receptions were held?

Merry Christmas


I started this blog about Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in October 2006 and never dreamt it would be so successful. With the help of contributions from all over the world I have managed to cover nearly every aspect of this wonderful film. Next year will be the 70th anniversary of the making of this Technicolor masterpiece.

In this unprecidented year we have definitely needed some of that Disney magic. Thank you to all my regular contributors and visitors for your continued support.  Merry - or should that be Merrie Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to you.

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

I recently posted about Elton Hayes as the best Alan a Dale in films and television. Here is the beautiful Joan Rice (1930-1997) as Maid Marian on a cinema lobby card for Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). She in my opinion was the best Maid Marian of all-time. 

There are now 97 pages on this blog covering every aspect of Joan's life and career. During the process of publishing those various articles, I have learnt so much about this now almost forgotten actress. How as a child she played amongst the glades of Sherwood Forest and later was personally chosen by Walt Disney to appear as Maid Marian in his live-action movie. She was always proud to say that she was Disney’s first Marian.

Alas, her film career was short but her memory is kept alive on this site.

Elton Hayes as Alan-a-Dale

Elton Hayes as Alan-a-Dale

In my opinion the best portrayal of the minstrel Alan-a-Dale in both film and television was by Elton Hayes (1915-2001). He appeared as the legendary character in Walt Disney’s live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Above is a rare still of him on set during the filming of this underrated movie.

A magazine article from 1954 describes Elton's early life:

“ Elton Hayes has been singing to a small guitar ever since he bought a sixpenny ukulele as a school boy. The smooth easy manner in which he sings those old English ballads and folk songs has come with many years of training in the theatre.

Elton was born in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, but spent most of his school days in Leicester. His parents were both in the entertainment business - his father was in the circus and his mother was a singer.

It was natural that Elton should want to follow in his parents footsteps. He toured the country with them, and while they performed on stage, he would sit in the wings watching, and learning how show business worked.

He soon mastered the sixpenny ukulele which he bought with his pocket money, and by the time he was ten years old he could play nearly every stringed instrument.

But Elton wanted to be a straight actor. However fate turned his career in other directions. He became interested in old English folk songs and ballads.

When the war started in 1939 Elton joined the army and became a gunner in the Royal Artillery. He was posted overseas in India and decided to take his guitar with him. He was also given a commission.

While in India he became seriously ill with rheumatic fever. This was a tragedy for Elton, for his fingers began to stiffen.

One day he remembered his guitar. He took it from its case and began strumming it. And soon, after  many hours of painful effort his fingers grew more supple. He could play again. His courage had brought him through.

In 1946 Elton returned to Britain and appeared on ‘In Town Tonight’. This was a beginning. For, like thousands of other ex-serviceman, he found that he had to begin building a career again.

Just how successful he has been can be judged from the number of programmes he has appeared in on radio and television.

He has had a record spot on nearly every major radio station on the Continent and the BBC. He has appeared in his own show on television and was a permanent member of Eric Barker's ‘Just Fancy’. And of course he makes gramophone records.

When the film ‘ Robin Hood’ was made in this country, the producers did not have to search far for the man to play the strolling minstrel - Elton Hayes was a  natural choice”.

Elton fishing during a break from filming Robin Hood

If you want to read more about the life and career of Elton Hayes just click on the label below.

The Queen and the Archbishop


Since starting this blog, I have been amazed at the amount of images that continue to appear from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). I have never seen the still (above) before. It shows Queen Eleanor (Martitia Hunt) kissing the hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Antony Eustrel). 

As explained in the description below the image, Queen Eleanor and the Archbishop of Canterbury are responsible for the governance of the kingdom while King Richard I is on Crusade. Together they plan to curb the immediate threat of the king's brother Prince John.

My blog has over 800 pages containing hundreds of images from this wonderful movie. Take a look under the label 'Picture Gallery' and Images of a Legend'. If you are aware of any stills that have never been featured, please let me know.

Joan Rice at Burnham Beeches

These are a couple of my much-treasured pictures of the gorgeous Joan Rice (1930-1997) as Maid Marian. They were probably taken on location at Middle Pond at Burnham Beeches possibly during the filming of the Whistle My Love sequence for Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952), sometime between April/June 1951.

Below is the picture I took of approximately the same area on 30th April 2009. 

Literally hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed at Burnham Beeches and there is a list of them on this website. It is a truly beautiful place and well-worth a visit.

Middle Pond, Burnham Beeches